McCain on the Environment

More

Brad Plumer examines the record. It's kind of puzzling. One would hope for something as simple as "he talks a good game, but it's all a huge lie!!!!!" but it's not all a huge lie. But there's little in the way of a coherent pattern. As on other domestic policy issues, a lot of McCain's thinking on these subjects doesn't look to me like thinking at all; more like a baseline conservatism-without-real-commitment plus sporadic pique-driven deviations. This is kind of distressing:

Trying to explain McCain's wildly erratic record on environmental issues is a maddening task. "We never know where he's going to come from," says Debbie Sease, the legislative director of the Sierra Club. "As a general rule, on land and conservation issues ... he tends to be pretty good. But he's a doctrinaire conservative on the role of government in protecting people from pollution."

That kind of fits the idea of trying to be a TR for the 21st century. But I think it stands the merits of these issues on their heads. I think even pretty serious libertarians would tell you that some kind of regulations aimed at preventing pollution make sense. On land issues, by contrast, the merits are often murky even from an environmental point of view. In theory you can take land and put it in the hands of benevolent regulators who protect it from over-logging, unsound mining, etc. More often, though, you put it into the hands of regulators who work for politicians who take bribes campaign contributions from logging and mining interests and wind up letting the companies have their way with the land at sub-market prices.

The overall picture of the domestic McCain continues to be of a kind of ignorant conservatism punctuated by bursts of thoughtless stabs at reform.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In